Wikileaks will be forced to close if financial blockades imposed by American financial companies including Visa, MasterCard, Western Union and PayPal are not lifted by the end of the year, Julian Assange has said.
Assange, who founded the pioneering website, announced on Monday that Wikileaks would stop publishing information immediately to focus on fundraising.
WikiLeaks has issued a complaint to the EU commission about the "corrupt financial powers" leading the blockade, Assange and spokesperson Kristinn Hrafnsson added in a press conference at the Frontline club in London.
The blockades prevent the website from receiving donations through their financial services, they said.
WikiLeaks could have received 40-50 million Euros if it wasn't fighting a financial blockade according to Hrafnsson. That represents up to95 per cent of their total revenue in the past year, Assange said.
In response to the blockade the organisation has now “commenced pre- litigation action against the blockade in Iceland, Denmark, the UK, Brussels, the United States and Australia".
Wikileaks argues that "this is not a story about Wikileaks but it is an attack on freedom of speech."
"Are we going to allow these financial institutions to have this power ... not just for Wikileaks but for every individual and organisations relying on donations?" Hrafnsson said.
Assange warned: "If this financial attack stands unchallenged a dangerous oppressive and undemocratic prescient will have been set, the implication of which go far beyond Wikileaks and its work."
He named organisations like Greenpeace and Amnesty International which could also be targeted by financial blockades in the future.
On November 28th, WikiLeaks will launch what it says is a next-generation submissions system, claiming that currently "it is not possible to trust any regular web-based secure encryption system on the internet."
Wikileaks says it has been able to stay "forcefully politically independent" because its traditional donor base has numbered more than 50,000 people. But it also admits that this has caused problems in the face of financial blockades because of the administrative costs involved.
"The problem with bank to bank transfers or secure cash transfers is that there is an overhead of something like $50. The average Wikileaks donation to date has been $25. So we are an organisation that has broad mass appeal, we aren't an organisation that relies on a few wealthy individuals."
"However we hope to put together a constellation of wealthy individuals from different countries so we are also able to keep politically independent as well as having broad mass appeal"
Assange says Wikileaks needs $3.5 million, or nearly £2.2 million, to survive over the next twelve months.